Olivia de Havilland Sues "Feud" Makers for Invasion of Privacy

Beth Cruz
July 2, 2017

Olivia de Havilland may be be turning 101 Saturday, but the two-time Oscar victor is not letting this chronological fact slow her down, certainly when it comes to suing FX Networks for using her as a character in its acclaimed series "Feud: Bette and Joan" and for showing her gossiping about the famously contentious relationship between screen legends Bette Davis and Joan Crawford.

De Havilland's complaint was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. "This interview itself and the statements attributed to Olivia De Havilland are contrary to her public and private image and reputation and have caused her economic, reputational, and emotional damages, including distress, anxiety, and humiliation".

Catherine Zeta-Jones, who played de Havilland in "Feud", said she wanted to take on the role after hearing stories about the star.

"For almost a half a century, they hated each other, and we loved them for it", Zeta-Jones' de Havilland says in the show. This is apparently very upsetting for the real De Havilland, who has prided herself on the "reputation for integrity and dignity" that she built by "refraining from gossip and other unkind, ill-mannered behavior". Her portrayal in the series was instead based Murphy's own research, including an interview he conducted with Davis shortly before her death in 1989.

Ryan Murphy opened the first episode of his Feud series with a scene that had Ms. Zeta-Jones portraying Olivia gossiping with reporters about the relationship between Davis and Crawford.


Later in her career, de Havilland appeared in the 1964 drama "Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte", alongside her longtime friend and colleague, Bette Davis.

FX and Ryan Murphy have yet to comment on Havilland's legal filing.

Olivia de Havilland turns 101 tomorrow.

The star says Feud was created to look like reality, but no one consulted her: the only person alive who experienced the events depicted. But she also expressed her dislike for shows that feature any representation of other persons, especially those who have already passed on.

Her lawyers are asking for an expedited trial date because of the actress's age. "All of this is untrue and casts Olivia De Havilland in false, hurtful and damaging light". California's seven-year rule - Labor Code Section 2855, also known as the de Havilland Law - was a major step in dismantling the Hollywood studio system and putting power into the hands of talent.

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